Batman fans had to wait a long time for a game worthy of the Caped Crusader and his rabid fanbase. If ever a character was a perfect fit for a video game then surely it is Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. In 2009, our prayers were answered as Rocksteady unleashed Arkham Asylum onto an unsuspecting public. It was quite simply the finest example of a comic to video game adaptation to date.
But while Batman had many strings to his faithful utility belt, many often overlook one of the most important aspects of his character– the fact that he has always been primarily a crime solving detective. Arkham Asylum managed to strike a perfect balance between detective work and brutal combat and, in doing so, it truly made you feel like the Dark Knight. However, it also managed to stay true to its comic book roots, which is a plus point for those (myself included) who felt that Christopher Nolan’s take on the character was sometimes too grounded in reality. It’s closer in tone to Batman: The Animated Series, which I still consider to be the greatest interpretation of the character across any medium.
Time had not been kind to Luke Skywalker… (and if you don’t get that joke, look up The Joker’s voice actor!)
The game gave you an impressive amount of choice and freedom when it comes to progressing through the bowels of the asylum. You could stalk your prey from the shadows or wade in with fists flying. The combat mechanics were simple to pick up but difficult to master. Pulling off a 20+ move combo to decimate a group of goons was beautifully realised, and even now it never gets old. Of course, Batman was also able to draw upon his iconic utility belt, and you could use the grapple gun to swing through the shadows, or smoke pellets and sonic batarangs to disable enemies. You were also able to enter detective mode which allowed you to scan the environment for clues and evidence to assist you in your quest.
Arkham Asylum was the perfect introduction to the Batman universe as the narrative and game as a whole has a very tight and polished feel to it. The roster of characters was also excellent, and was supported by some wonderful voice acting– with Mark Hamill’s Joker being a particular highlight. The story itself was a skilfully woven tale that made you unable to put down the controller until you’d seen it through to a conclusion.
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